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Free Microsoft patch tool morphs, nears completion

What was SUS, then WUS will now be known as WSUS. On Tuesday, a near-final form of Windows Server Update Services was made available for review.

Microsoft's long-awaited free patch management tool, Windows Update Services, continues to make progress on its way to a mid-year release. On Tuesday, Microsoft said the tool, which was also given a new name, is now available as a release candidate.

WUS, which was formerly known as Software Update Services (SUS), will now be known as Windows Server Update Services, or WSUS. The software lets IT administrators install patches on Windows, Office, Exchange Server and SQL Server, with support for additional products over time, Microsoft said.

For more information

Review Microsoft's answers to administrators' WUS questions


See what Bill Gates had to say about WUS at November's IT Forum

"We are anxiously anticipating the release of this product," said Duncan McAlynn, practice manager at Collective Technologies, an Austin, Texas, consulting firm. "It is my suspicion that this will become the de facto standard for the small-to-medium business enterprise to deal with the patch management vulnerabilities in their environments."

The tools give administrators the ability to automatically download updates from Microsoft Update by product and type, and it will feature added reporting capabilities, as well as some database migration and import/export capabilities.

In addition, with WSUS, specific updates can be set to download automatically, updates can be reviewed for applicability before they are downloaded and updates can be targeted more closely to specific servers.

Microsoft said administrators must install Background Intelligent Transfer Services (BITS) 2.0 before installing the WSUS server. BITS 2.0 lets users download updates in the background using available network bandwidth.

Administrators must also have MSDE2000a (Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine), WMSDE or SQL Server 2000 with SP3. The release candidate version of WSUS is available for download to non-production environments on Microsoft's Web site.

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